While standing on one foot

Make it easy! they insist.

One of the longest-running direct response ads of all time was for a piano playing course. For more than forty years, people mailed in money for a simple, fast way to impress their friends by playing the piano. They sold a lot of manuals, but I’m guessing not many people actually learned to play.

And every year, there are new electronic devices, pills and procedures that promise to help people lose weight or get fit without trying very hard.

Of course, the one-foot shortcut fails. Almost every time.

Not only don’t we learn anything, but we waste the time and the money we spent standing impatiently on one foot.

A fundamental reason that high-overhead educational settings like med school succeed is that sunk costs and commitment dramatically increase our willingness to stick it out. If the easy thing worked, you would have done it already.

The most successful students insist that the teacher make it difficult. So difficult that we’re tempted to quit (but don’t).

Commitment gets us through the frustration, and frustration is the partner of learning.